October 9, 2019 (Wednesday)
The vulcanizing shop near Luzon Ave. cor. Commonwealth Avenue flyover becomes my first stop for this journey. Vulcanizing shops are the workplace where I would be the most useless. Well, I am still useless now, since my mind’s all over the place. That’s why I asked for a sabbatical leave in the first place, because I cannot find my place in the present, now that she’s gone. Looking to the future that will never be, the anxiety strikes, and I am having anxiety attacks.
Throughout the Cebu survey (September 30-October 6), and also last Monday, I was having my daily episodes of anxiety attacks. Like an abandoned cat that just emerged from bag that its former owner threw away, my eyes darted back and forth as I tried and hoped for a way to return to a place that I once called home, to return to the embrace of the only person that mattered.
The longing begins to fill my heart as the compressor begins to fill air into the tires of my bicycle. The cold sweat of my nervousness amidst the warm afternoon reveals why manning a vulcanizing shop would make me the most useless: I have a phobia on inflatables. I always had that fear of seeing something burst for it is not good for my heart which can burst anytime due to aneurysm and to my blood vessels for I have hemangioma (congenital condition where excessive blood pressure can make my blood vessels burst).
Also, in a figurative sense, my heart is about to burst as it reaches the threshold in withholding the negative thoughts and emotions that are piling up. No longer are the days where these and this heartbreak were caused by the girls that I used to write about in my blog. I no longer had this throbbing feeling when I went across the “memory lane” – the segment of sidewalk between UP Ylanan Gate and Tandang Sora – as I knew that I already moved on from those heartwarming memories from the 2nd of May, 8 years ago, for it is the present that already mattered.
However, that present is in shambles as she become gone without a trace. All that remained is the emptiness brought by loneliness and the pain of the void the emerged upon her disappearance. It’s painful. I want her back. I want the pain to be gone.
But no matter how much I am enticed into kicking the bucket, I know that I have to keep on going. That star apple-colored bicycle that I am currently using constantly gives that reminder. The figure of that Japanese bike being glazed by that guiding afternoon reminds me of the identical bike of my mentor who has guided me in my career and my life for the past 5 years. We are currently working on my graduate thesis on which I am pressured to finish by December. I am burdened not only by the pressure that is upon me, but also by the crippling guilt that I am riddled with.
One of the reasons that my graduate thesis is behind on time, though I totally understand what my mentor went through, was the tragedy that befell to one of my mentor’s children. The progress stalled not because of the time that my mentor needed to get back on his feet, but because of the reason behind the lie that I gave to the students – that my mentor and I both advised in their respective research – who then asked me after the wake if I was haunted by the same thoughts and impulses that prematurely took that life away…
…on which I denied.
And that is the lie.
To tell the truth, there was a time that I really thought that I was to die.
It was the time that I was dating someone last year. I called our relationship off. Of course, she would ask why. Contrary to what’s done to me recently that lead me to a journey of wandering and wondering, I have done my best to explain. I gave that girl three reasons: the second one being the lingering feelings for the lead girl in the Missing You series and the third one being the near miss as I attempt to veer away from the mature aspect of romantic relationships.
I never told her of the first one.
I never did.
I remembered that it was exactly a year ago where she cut off our communications, but not before asking for the last time if we could still work things out.
Things wouldn’t work out with a supposedly-dead man.
Early January 2018 was the time where I was told that my scholarship was in jeopardy…as well as my future. There were little miscalculations leading for the scholarship program to presume that I cannot make my General Weighted Average back to the required grade. That was the time that my scholarship was apparently terminated. And worse, I was asked to return all of the monetary benefits that I got from the program.
I’ve always had passive suicidal ideation my entire life. That’s the curse of knowledge: seeing the depressing reality, the absurdities of humanity, the inevitable mortality, and the powerlessness in seeing the wretched and ignominy. Existence became a bane on which those who see too much of the world and society wanted to escape from.
I wanted to escape from the situation – that I was in – that time. And the escape route that I deemed necessary was to rest: morir es descanzar.
That was why I called off the relationship that I was in.
I’m sorry Chie.
I had to carry that burden alone.
My petition was reevaluated and the program found out that they’ve miscalculated the GWA.
There was a chance.
It was not yet the end.
It was a monumental task. I needed to gather my resolve. And it was not an easy task for someone as free-spirited as I was. I needed to take the responsibility of the burden that was upon me.
I needed to focus.
I needed to dedicate my existence to surmount this seemingly impossible task.
So, I waged my life in it.
I set a condition upon myself: that failure would mean death for me.
A semester later, the greatest birthday gift of my life that time came: the news of my scholarship status being saved as I pulled through. Well, a huge bonus was that I learned tremendously from the exemplary professors who handled the subjects that I took that semester (especially Doc Zarco).
My mentor was a professor on one of the subjects that I took that semester. The despair within me was suffocating that time. It was him who brought the positivity during that ordeal of mine and convinced me to never give up when I was about to. He was an efficient lecturer too. Maybe perhaps that’s how an individual enhances his/her learning process: either putting his/her life at stake or learning out of his/her volition.
Either peak pressure or no pressure. That’s how one would learn.
After that ordeal, the pressure now was for me to finish my graduate research.
However, the time that I was about to deliver my proposal presentation was when the tragedy had happened. To set the irony, we were both in agreement in our opinion regarding mental health: that it is a condition, not an excuse. The tragedy that came crippled us both.
My mentor was riddled with grief.
I was riddled with the guilt.
Maybe, if I accepted my mentor’s invitation to his house to attend his child’s birthday, that would not have happened.
Maybe, if I didn’t have a spat on ask.fm about mental health on the eve of that person’s death, that would not have happened.
Or perhaps, maybe, I should have died back then so that they could have paid attention to that person and to that person’s predicaments.
I was put into still, with these burdens piling up on me…the tremendous expectations… The pressure builds up to this day. The burden of the void of her unexpected departure weights me down. (That’s how I was saved by that girl who just left me.)
And seeing how heavy my luggage attached to my bicycle, the guy manning the vulcanizing shop suggests having the pressure reduced a bit. I then pay the guy 10 pesos for his services that I cannot do due to my phobia.
After that, fearing that the tires of my bicycle would not handle the weight and the pressure would cause the tires to burst, I deflate the tires a little bit. Or it is just my phobia manifesting itself. Anyway, f*ck pressure!